Current star center of the Kansas Jayhawks, Joel Embiid was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back a few days ago. The injury is expected to likely keep Embiid out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. Depending on how far the injury progresses, the center may even be held out even longer. A back injury is nothing to mess with. When reassessed, doctors may ultimately decide that it’s simply not worth risking further injury for Embiid to step foot on the hardwood again this season.
Recently, it has been believed that the injury to the Jayhawk may impact his draft stock this summer, assuming that Embiid decides to declare. On nearly every draft board, Embiid has been ranked as the clear cut first pick, or at worst the third pick. One team that would highly benefit from drafting him would be the Los Angeles Lakers.
At the moment, the Lakers are in position to receive the fifth selection in this year’s draft. Los Angeles would certainly be in no position to select Embiid with that pick unless management decided to trade up. Without the assets to do that, Embiid would be almost out of the question. However, this is where the injury comes in. Teams that have put so much effort into tanking this season may shy away from a big man with a serious injury much like Nerlens Noel last year.
The injury could have been the best thing that could have happened for the Lakers, though. It is no secret that Los Angeles loves its centers, having such a storied history with some of the league’s greatest of all time. Aside from the historical aspect, Los Angeles is in desperate need of some defense, and a presence in the middle. Nothing is guaranteed, but if paired with a player of Pau Gasol‘s magnitude, the team’s frontcourt could be deadly once again. Also, the mentorship of Kobe Bryant has the potential to set not just Embiid, but any rookie up for future success once he retires.